It isn’t widely known, but I am not much of a houseplant grower. For some reason I tend to forget to water my indoor charges. Fertilizer? You would think I never even heard of the stuff.
My first gardens included many indoor houseplants that never saw the light of a sunny day outdoors. Yet they thrived. I did have a method to my plant choices during those years spent “up Noth” where I could only garden outdoors for three or four months. I would purchase my plants from stores that didn’t coddle them. I figured if they survived the neglect and harsh conditions in these non-plant departments, that they would make it with my less than perfect care. Usually this worked, even with half-dead sale plants.
Nowadays, when I move tropical plants – also known as houseplants to much of the gardening population – indoors, they just hang on until they can be moved back to their rightful place in the garden setting.
The ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Emerald Fronds') is the ultimate houseplant for plant killers. It has that dinosaur look that appeals to us plant collectors, with its extremely shiny leaves that grow stiffly upright from an underground tuber. The swollen stems at the base of the leaves show its water-holding capability. (For some reason, these stems remind me of the African Baobab Tree, Adansonia digitata.)
I could leave my ZZ plant outdoors since its roots will survive 25 degree F. weather but I am hoping it will reach its full potential of three feet tall so I bring it indoors to overwinter. It thrives on my porch in the summer where it gets very little light from the tree-shaded garden. I water it occasionally after the soil dries out.
Those of you who garden USDA Zones 9-11 can grow the ZZ plant outdoors year-round in part sun or shade. If your soil is so acid you think you can only grow blueberries, the ZZ plant is for you. It will grow in soil with a pH of 4-5.
I bought my ZZ plant at a plant auction held by a local Camellia Society. It has at least doubled in size in a couple years. If you are looking for an unusual plant or one that is not readily available in your area, do check out local Master Gardener sales and Garden Society sales. Members love to share the unusual things that thrive in their own gardens. You can also get good growing advice from these members.
Stokes Tropicals lists the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Emerald Fronds') in their on-line catalog.
By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners ColorChoice,
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
There are few things more satisfying than seeing your beautiful garden in full bloom...and it's especially thrilling to see it abuzz with the activity of butterflies and bees. Want to bring more activity to your garden? Here's a guide to choosing unique, colorful, easy-care plants that provide a much-needed place for pollinators of all sizes to do their work.
Jump into Spring with savings up to $2200 on this Exclusive Cruise of the Rivers of Holland & Belgium with Eric Johnson Host of GardenSMART from PBS
Sail right into the pages of a storybook on our European garden tour through Holland and Belgium.
MAY 6-16, 2018
As low as $3799 per person/do, Price includes airfare from New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago. CALL FOR OTHER CITIES THROUGHOUT THE USA
Watch filming and be part of the fun, telling your favorite...and not so favorite Dirty Tales.
2 Nights Amsterdam & 7 Nights River. Visit Amsterdam, Holland, Belgium, Kinderdijk, Antwerp, Bruges, Keukenhof Gardens, Rotterdam and More!
This Exclusive, Five-Star, Cruise & Garden Tours Vacation Includes:
2 nights in Amsterdam including gorgeous hotel, wonderful tours and daily breakfast
7 nights on the new, flagship Amadeus Silver III river cruise ship
Incredible excursions in Arnhem, Kinderdijk, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Utrecht
All of your meals on board the ship, including wine with dinner